Monday, March 5, 2012
I haven't posted a graph of Iranian oil production in quite a long time, which seems a little slack of me. Anyway, here it is with four sources up to date (EIA, IEA, JODI, and OPEC MOMR). The graph is not zero-scaled in order to show the changes and discrepancies better. The black line shows the average based on those four.
However, it's really worth looking at the individual sources here. First look at the orange JODI line - this is based on Iranian self reports and shows Iran as a model citizen of OPEC - production was sharply reduced in line with OPEC decisions in late 2008, and has remained roughly flat since. Given that a) this doesn't agree with any other source, and b) that the Iranian regime seems particularly dishonest even by the low standards of Middle Eastern autocracies, I don't believe this data: it's too good to be true. Then there's the green line from the US EIA which looks very strange with several almost linear segments of tiny rises punctuated by little falls and which completely doesn't match the IEA or OPEC sources. I have no idea what's going on here.
Finally, there are the IEA (plum) and OPEC (blue) sources which show roughly similar patterns that seem generally believable. It's tempting to assume these two are roughly onto the truth and ignore the others. However, they could be wrong too - there's really no way to tell very reliably with a data situation this poor. Anyway, those both show some cut in 2008 (but smaller than the Iranians say) and then roughly flat production in 2009 and 2010 followed by an accelerating fall in output in 2011.
With western sanctions on the country biting harder and harder, it seems likely that this fall will continue for a while at least. As of January, the fall in 2011 only amounts to a couple of hundred thousand barrels per day - not a huge effect in 90mbd of global liquid fuel production. So a lot of the recent rise in prices is probably based on what might happen rather than what has happened.